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Full text of "My Country And My People"

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LITERARY    LIFE                        265

the French neo-classical school that made the appreciation of
Shakespeare impossible for a century and a half in Europe, have
been abandoned, and in their place we have a fresher, richer
and broader literary ideal, which in the end must bring about
a closer harmony between literature and life, a greater accuracy
of thinking and a greater sincerity of living.

Of course it is more blessed to give than to take. For with this
change there has come chaos. Progress is fun, but progress is
painful. More than that, progress is always ugly. With the
profound intellectual upheaval that is going on in Young
China's minds, we have lost a centre of gravity in thought and
we have lost a cheerful common sense. The task of adjustment
between the old and the new is usually too much for the
ordinary man, and modern Chinese thought is characterized
by an extreme immaturity of thinking, fickleness of temper and
shallowness of ideas. To understand the old is difficult, and
to understand the new is not too easy. A little bit of roman-
ticism, a tinge of libertinism, a lack of critical and mental
ballast, extreme impatience with anything old and Chinese,
extreme gullibility in accepting the yearly "new models" of
thought, a perpetual hunt for the latest poet from Jugoslavia
or the newest novelist from Bulgaria, great sensitiveness toward
foreigners in revealing anything Chinese, which simply means
a lack of self-confidence, an eighteenth-century rationalism,
fits of melancholia and hyper-enthusiasm, the chase of slogans
from year to year like a dog biting its own tail—these charac-
terize the writings of modern China.

We have lost the gift of seeing life steadily and seeing life
whole. To-day literature is clouded by politics, and writers are
divided into two camps, one offering Fascism and the other
offering Communism as a panacea for all social ills, and there is
probably as little real independence of thinking as there ever
was in old China. With all the apparent emancipation of ideas,
the old psychosis of the Grand Inquisition is still there, under
the cloak of modern terms. For, after all, the Chinese love
liberty as they love a foreign cocotte, for whom they have no
real affection. These are the ugly features of the period of
transition, and they in time will wear off, when China becomes
politically better organized, and its soul has less sensitive spots.